According to Ayurveda, summertime is Pitta season. Pitta is the dosha governed by fire and water and is responsible for the heat we feel in the summer season and also the heat in our bodies. The heat in the summer can leave us feeling drained, restless and unable to cool down. Claiming our pitta so that it doesn’t become imbalanced is very important in the hotter months. This yoga sequence is designed to help you cool down and keep your pitta at bay so you can enjoy your summer.
Seated meditation and alternate nostril breath
Make your way into a comfortable seat, spine upright and sit bones firmly rooted. Place your palms face down on your thighs and take a few deep breaths. Once you feel settled, return to your regular breathing pattern, letting your breath flow in and out of the body at a smooth and natural rhythm. Direct your entire awareness to the sensation of the breath. Become curious as you witness the breath enter and leave the nostrils, noticing the temperature, sensations, and where in your body you feel it the most. When you notice your mind begin to wander, gently and non-judgmentally redirect your awareness back to your breath, letting your thoughts pass by like clouds in the sky of your mind.
For alternate nostril breathing, tuck your pointer and middle finger of your right hand in and place your thumb over your right nostril. Inhale through your left, and then close the left with your ring and pinky finger, and exhale through the right. Inhale through the right, then plug that nostril with then plug that nostril and exhale through the left. Repeat this pattern for at least 21 rounds.
Extend your knees mats width apart and sit back on your heels. Reach your arms forward, planting your palms face down on the mat. Breathe deeply and slowly here, allowing your chest to release further into the mat with each exhale. Hold for 15 breaths.
Thread the needle
In child’s pose, thread your right arm underneath the left, planting your right shoulder to the ground. Place your right cheek on the mat and breathe into your shoulder. Hold for 5 breaths before switching sides.
Place your right knee behind your right wrist and extend your left leg long behind you. Try to keep your right shin parallel to the mat and square your hips to the ground, adding a blanket underneath the right hip if necessary. Inhale straighten through the spine and open up through the heart, and on an exhale, release the chest down to the mat and rest your forehead on the backs of your palms. Breathe deeply into the hip and hold for 10-15 breaths, slowly coming out and switching sides when you are finished.
When you are finished pigeon on both sides, transition onto your back. Place your feet on the mat and press into your feet to lift your hips off the mat slightly, placing a block or blanket underneath your sacrum for support. Extend your legs up to the sky with a slight bend in the knees for waterfall pose. Hold for 20 breaths, slowly planting the feet and removing the support from underneath the sacrum when you are finished.
Place a block or rolled blanket underneath the base of the shoulder blades. Extend the legs out long on the mat and plant your elbows on the mat, pressing into the forearms to open up through the heart. Place the crown of the head on the mat, opening up through the throat as well. Hold for 15 seconds slowly pressing through the forearms to come up when you are finished.
Extend your arms and legs out long on the mat, coming into savasana. Let go of any breath control or any attempt to control the mind and let your body soften. Stay here as you allow the practice to integrate for around 7 minutes, slowly coming up to resume your day when you are finished.
Gabrielle Marchese is a certified yoga instructor.